Buying vintage records is pretty trendy right now. Many of these shops share space with barber or coffee shops. What you probably haven’t seen is a place to buy your vinyl and watch a hedge fund in action. But that’s what you’ll find at Outsider Records & Hedge Fund, which opened at the beginning of March.
It may sound like an odd pairing, but to owner Michael Wynne, it makes a lot of sense: “Hot sauce and cauliflower, chocolate and peanut butter, lots of unusual tastes go together.”
Motivated by political ideals, he decided to quit his job after the presidential election and pursue his passion while putting his money where his mouth is.
“Social media outrage doesn’t mean anything,” said Wynne. “Ranting on social media isn’t enough. If you really want change, you need to take action,” he explained.
So he is. The record store income allows him funds for operational expenses while his recently established hedge fund develops. “In August 2020, any profits will be assigned to a SuperPAC devoted to buying advertising for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee,” he explained.
The records and the hedge fund are completely separate businesses, so unless you are accredited by the SEC (regular civilians aren’t allowed to contribute to hedge funds), your best path to supporting this business is by purchasing records.
The hedge fund may take some time to come to fruition, but the traditional record store aspect of the business is already attracting attention.
Current store inventory is in the hundreds of vintage records, with more coming in daily. By the end of March, Wynne plans to have an inventory of more than 3,000 records. A casual glance shows albums ranging from Thelonious Monk to Chuck Berry to James Cleveland.
You will find a few sealed albums from the 1960s with hefty price tags ($400), but most fall between $8-$40, in a broad range of genres, like jazz, blues, psychedelic rock, funk, soul, reggae, avant-garde, folkways, and ethnographic.
The atmosphere is sparse at the moment because “every dollar spent is diverting funds from the larger [political] mission,” said Wynne. But the space feels like a good place to meet and social while listening to the most recent musical finds.
“We purchase records from all over the tri-state area, and we pay well for large collections,” said Wynne. Many significant record collections are found in western New Jersey, where, in general, you can find more people interested in Making America Great Again. “I frequently do business with Trump supporters,” said Wynne. “We respect each other and the business relationship. I want people to speak their minds,” he said, despite the aims of his hedge fund.
And even though Outsider is a business you don’t see often, the biggest surprise so far for Wynne hasn’t been the mechanicians of the business plan or the complications of maintaining inventory. “What I’ve been most startled by is the warmth of this community,” said Wynne of the revitalizing Elmwood Arts District near the Maplewood Town Pool. “On opening weekend, without any publicity, the store was full. Some were collectors, but most were people in the neighborhood, stopping by to see what we offer.”
Said Howard Petruziello, the National Promotion Director for Red Light Management and ATO Records, and a South Orange resident, “I went to drop into Outsider Records for a few minutes and stayed for nearly an hour and picked up some great records. I’m thrilled to have a shop in town with a deep selection of cool records and look forward to digging through the stacks and meeting other music lovers in the months and years to come.”
Outsider Records & Hedge Fund
290 Elmwood Avenue